Your Playground Ad Here

My wife and I took our kids to a new playground today. It had a colossal jungle gym, all made of wood. I’d say it covered half an acre. I remembered seeing a similar one being built on a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episode. The whole community got together and everyone pitched in to build it. Pretty cool idea really.

The odd thing about this jungle gym: it’s covered with advertising. There are little metal plates nailed all over it, each engraved with the name of a business which had funded a portion of the structure. “This slide paid for by ABC Hardware.” “Entryway courtesy of J. Banks Investment Group”. There’s a prominently placed billboard with at least a hundred names on it, listing who gave what amount of money, and who was on the committee responsible for building the thing. It’s like one of those signs you see at a national landmark, or in a college auditorium.

Who does this? Who builds a playground in a public park and slaps advertising all over it, then creates a big billboard listing every person who paid for it? Must we now promise notoriety and/or profit to entice people to beautify their communities, or do things for children?

The homeless shelter downtown is having financial problems. Maybe they should print t-shirts that say “This person slept in a bed last night courtesy of ABC Hardware.” Perhaps larger investments might mandate something more nearly permanent, like a tattoo on the person’s arm: “Eat at Joe’s”.

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